I am NOT a true believer with respect to cholesterol being the root of all evil when it comes to heart disease. That said, I think there is good evidence that elevated LDL levels (across large populations of people) may be an indicator of (BUT NOT CAUSE) heart disease.
From Paul Jaminet at Perfect Health Diet:
“LDL cholesterol is the ambulance crew that arrives at the scene of the crime to help the victims. The lipid hypothesis is the view that ambulance drivers should be arrested for homicide because they are commonly found at murder scenes.”
From Chris Masterjohn at The Daily Lipid:
“I think the evidence for the central role of the LDL particle in the development of atherosclerosis is overwhelming. However, I believe the evidence is very strong that the LDL particle is a victim rather than a perpetrator in the process, and that it is the oxidative destruction of the particle itself rather than the concentration of cholesterol within it that is the culprit.”
With respect to HDL, there appears to be good evidence that higher HDL levels are associated with better health; however the simplistic explanation that HDL mops up the bad LDL seems to be both inadequate and wrong.
Again, Paul Jaminet:
“The lipid hypothesis presumed that the function of HDL is to clear toxic cholesterol from arteries, cholesterol having evolved for the purpose of giving us heart attacks. HDL then brings cholesterol to the liver which returns it to the blood via LDL (which evolved for the purpose of poisoning arteries with cholesterol, and giving HDL something to do).”
“But there is an alternative hypothesis: that infections cause disease, and that HDL has an immune function. This hypothesis would explain why HDL protects against infections and against all diseases of aging.”
I would strongly encourage you to read all three of Paul’s recent articles regarding HDL:
I found the last article, How to Raise HDL, especially interesting (and it certainly doesn’t require taking a statin).
Here is additional information if you are interested in learning how to read Scientific Research.